Sunrise marks a new dawn in Chinese travel retail

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

sunrise-6Sunrise Duty Free certainly knows how to put on a grand show but on Monday night the retailer surely exceeded even its own high standards with the simply  dazzling launch of O World. The shopping platform was described as a fusion of the virtual and traditional shopping worlds and it lived right up to that billing.

I was privileged to be the sole international media representative at the event, held at the Sunrise Duty Free staff compound close to Shanghai Pudong Airport.

The e-commerce and product showcase platform is a much-refined version of the Chinese travel retailer’s first e-commerce proposition, Virtual Mall, that was launched in similar style back in 2014. As Sunrise Duty Free Chairman Fred Kiang told guests: “O World brings our off-line store right to your screen. With an innovative touch of art and technology, customers can enjoy a unique online shopping experience anytime, anywhere.”

sunrise-3sunrise-4You can read the full details in my original report. What I like about O World and why I think it is important in an industry context is the way it blends traditional offline shopping with an online proposition that, unusually, is full of energy, excitement, flair and fun. Customers logging on to O World discover a three-dimensional shopping mall, which they can tour, browse and shop.

It’s yet another example of how Chinese retailers (well supported by the authorities) are doing everything they can to maximise duty free consumption at home rather than abroad. Compare that approach with the sad old European Union and its banning of intra-EU duty free back in 1999.

sunrise-1-768x576 sunrise-7-768x576 sunrise-9-768x576Brands can continuously upgrade their range and display, highlight exclusive or seasonal offers and maintain absolute flexibility over their consumer visibility. The platform includes detailed product information and imagery, plus a virtual reality element, adding up to what Sunrise described as an “immersive consumer experience”.

The launch event’s stunning stage set and surrounds were created by Han Lixun, famous for designing and choreographing the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics among other world-renowned projects.

Han Lixun said he hoped that through the integration of technology and art, virtual reality and reality, a compelling interaction between the mall and its consumers would be realised. Shoppers should have a more emotional experience when browsing, he contended.

sunrise-021-768x504 sunrise-023-768x466 sunrise-027-768x558 sunrise-028-768x542 sunrise-042-768x540 sunrise-c16__view03-768x432 sunrise-c24-768x432Take a look at the imagery above for a real (and virtual) taste of the fabulously choreographed vision of this important initiative and you’ll see what he was getting at.

Here is a bricks and mortar travel retailer realising not only that it must reinvent itself in a world increasingly dominated by e-commerce (particularly in China) but having the courage and vision to do it on its own terms. A new Sunrise? For sure, at least, a new dawn.

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(Above and below) The launch dinner was a gourmet’s delight

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